KAUMAKANI — From the goodness of his heart, Keith Yap enjoys helping his community.
“If everybody picked one organization to help, I think our community would be a lot better off,” said Yap, director of administration at Gay and Robinson.
Yap will be honored Wednesday as the Ambassador of Aloha at the Waimea Theater. The award recognizes people in the community who commit their time to the betterment of the Garden Isle.
“It’s about people who have so much impact — either by spreading aloha or are community minded,” said Thomas Nizo, festival chairman of the Waimea Town Celebration. “We wanted to honor, every year, somebody who invests in our island.”
As part of the 40th annual event on the Westside, Yap will be honored with the award and will be accompanied by Na Hoku Hanohano award winners Natalie and Iolani Kamau‘u, who will perform that evening.
Yap serves on several nonprofits, including chairman for Kauai/Niihau Burial Council, treasurer for Kauai Hospice, treasurer for Leadership Kauai, and treasurer for West Kauai Business and Professional Association.
“We nominated Keith because of the aloha that he has for the iwi (bones) of our kupuna. When I worked at PMRF, when we uncovered bones, they have representatives on base that take care of it,” Nizo said. “Not only do we stress aloha in the present, but also for our kupuna who have passed.”
Born in Oahu, Yap moved to Kauai in 1995 and is married to Valory Yap.
“I wanted to slow my life down and move to the outer islands. I took a job at a hotel and started to go work in the resort industry, “ he said. “It wasn’t like the hustle and bustle of Honolulu.”
But before moving to Kauai, Yap became involved in nonprofits that helped seriously ill children and their families.
“I was called HUGS, which was an acronym for Help Understanding Group Support,” he said. “It was my boss who asked to help him out with that and he wanted me to help them out. I became the treasurer of that organization.”
On Kauai, he found Hospice.
“I like Hospice because the world is getting older,” he said. “I wanted to be with an organization that will really take care of their elderly in the community.”
Later, he added the burial council to his pro bono work.
“I quickly elevated from vice chair to chairman because of my ability to pull people together even in hostile situations,” he said. “People can be very emotional and can feel the whole world is against them. I’m able to talk to them and try to get to a solution that everybody can be satisfied with.”
Yap said he encourages young people to be more involved.
“There’s a lot of us in the nonprofit organizations serving as directors,” he said. “With the pressure on government to reduce, there’s going to be a lot more pressure for communities to try to take care of their own. Nonprofits are one of the ways they can do that.”